U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue says this is a victory for the American and Mexican people along with anyone who has lost a loved one to the “black hole of addiction.”
Detaining Joaquin “El Chapo” Guzman for the rest of his life won’t be easy. He escaped from two high-security Mexican prisons.
That’s why experts said the kingpin, who was convicted Tuesday of drug trafficking, is probably headed to the federal government’s “Supermax” prison in Florence, Colorado.
The facility is known as ADX for “administrative maximum” – a prison so remote and protected that it has earned the nickname the “Alcatraz of the Rockies.”
“El Chapo fits the bill perfectly,” Cameron Lindsay, who served as a warden in three federal lockups, including the Metropolitan Detention Center in Brooklyn, told the Associated Press. “I’d be absolutely shocked if he’s not sent to the ADX.”
El Chapo’s fellow inmates at ADX would include Unabomber Ted Kaczynski, Boston Marathon bomber Dzhokhar Tsarnaev, Sept. 11 conspirator Zacarias Moussaoui and Oklahoma City bombing accomplice Terry Nichols.
Although federal authorities have not publicly said where El Chapo will be sent, U.S. Attorney Richard Donoghue said Thursday Guzman faces “a sentence from which there is no escape and no return.”
El Chapo’s escapes
Guzman escaped for the first time in 2001, when he was smuggled out of a top-security Mexican prison in a laundry basket.
His most famous escape came in 2015, when he broke out of the maximum-security Altiplano prison in central Mexico. After working with accomplices for weeks, he slipped into a hatch beneath his shower and drove a waiting motorcycle through a mile-long tunnel dug underground.
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‘High-tech version of hell’
Even considering El Chapo’s history and his vast network of accomplices, escaping from Supermax is almost impossible.
The notorious prison, in an old mining town two hours south of Denver, is surrounded by razor-wired fences, gun towers, armed patrols and attack dogs.
In an interview with The Boston Globe, a former prisoner called Supermax a “high-tech version of hell, designed to shut down all sensory perception.”
Prisoners often spend years in solitary confinement and can go days without words spoken to them, according to an Amnesty International report. Although they have access to a television, their only look into the world outside is through one 4-inch window in their 7-by-12-foot cells. The window’s design prevents prisoners from even seeing where in the facility they might be housed.
All meals are eaten in the solitude of a prisoner’s cell, and the cells contain toilets. The prison holds approximately 400 inmates, and many are confined to solitude for 23 hours a day.
“If ever there were an escape-proof prison, it’s the facility at Florence,” Burl Cain, the former warden of the maximum-security Louisiana State Penitentiary at Angola, told the AP. “It’s the prison of all prisons.”
Prisoners at Supermax can’t touch any visitors and are separated by a thick plexiglass screen.
“Other than when being placed in restraints and escorted by guards, prisoners may spend years without touching another human being,” the Amnesty International report said.
Contributing: Associated Press
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